Passover begins with an invitation to the less fortunate among us to join in–an invitation extended to those who are physically, spiritually, or emotionally “in need”!

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, United with Israel

The Passover Seder opens with the following declaration and invitation: “All who are hungry let them come and eat with us…. all who are in need let them join our Seder.” This declaration is made not in Hebrew, but in Aramaic, the ancient language of the Jewish people.

A number of questions have been asked on this declaration: Why does the Seder open with these words? Why is this passage recited in Aramaic? Why are there different declarations for those who are “hungry” and those who are “in need?” What’s the difference between “eat with us” and “join our Seder.”

One small passage…so many questions!

It is explained that the words “all who are hungry…come and eat” are obvious and to be understood at face value. Some people, unfortunately, simply do not have the means to properly observe Passover and are dependent on others for their needs. Indeed, Passover is the most expensive holiday to prepare for and observe. From the costs of koshering the home to the purchase of kosher-for-Passover food, many families see their expenses quadrupled around Passover time. Hence, we invite those who are hungry to come and eat with us.

However, the additional passage of “all who are in need” is not intended for those in need of food. Rather, it is intended for those “in need” of friendship, compassion, and all types of spiritual nourishment. So many people today are lonely and feeling empty. We have to look out for the downtrodden and less fortunate. We have to welcome them, strengthen them, and love them.

We open the Passover Seder by declaring our care and concern for all those in need. People often believe that it is sufficient to feed the hungry. Yes, that is a huge mitzvah. But the Seder teaches us that we have to look out for everyone. Our Passover Seder cannot be complete unless we’ve done our part to ensure that the hungry are fed AND that the lonely are supported. To feed people is one thing but to make them feel “joined” may be even greater.

The Passover Seder represents our redemption from slavery and becoming a free people. Jews know all too well what it means to be both hungry and abandoned. Passover reminds us that, as a free people and as the Jewish nation, we must do our part to ensure that no other human being will ever have to feel hungry or abandoned.

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Join us in sending Passover food packages (and personal notes) to Israeli soldiers and their families

Many soldiers spend the Passover holiday with needy families back home. The soldiers greatly appreciate your love and concern. Bring them Passover joy!